The Energy Center at UTEP is working with area affordable housing providers to construct ten passive solar homes. Currently, passive solar technology is underutilized because many people it requires special materials and complicated designs that have unusual architectural styling.

Loan STAR: Texas is the Lone Star State, it is also the Loan STAR State.

In an innovative program that has been mimicked nationwide, the State of Texas provides money for a revolving loan account available for public buildings. Loans are made to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and then re-paid with the utility savings from the efficiency retrofits.

The Loan to Save Taxes And Resources (LoanSTAR) program is working. So far, Texans are saving $9.77 million dollars per year in 199 buildings while avoiding 4.9MW of electrical demand. The average simple payback for the implemented projects is 3.4 years.

The Energy Center at the University of Texas at El Paso is providing oversight of LoanSTAR sites in the West Texas region and working with building owners to identify and implement additional energy saving opportunities.

The ten homes will be heated by the sun, using south facing glass and conventional building materials for heat storage. They will look much like other homes in the neighborhood but most of the energy to heat them will com from the sun. Currently, eight homes are under contract and five are substantially complete.

Low income shelter providers across Texas will be provided plans, specifications, and technical assistance to help them adapt the concept to their projects. By designing homes that respond to the local climate and use passive solar heating, utility costs can be dramatically lowered for little additional construction costs.

Low income families frequently pay premium prices for home heating fuels. If widely adapted, passive solar home design could make homes more affordable and more comfortable to live in for many low income families. A state-wide workshop, plans and specfications, and tours will be utilized to encourage housing design for low income groups to incorporate simple, cost-effective passive solar principles.


All State agencies have been mandated to reduce their energy consumption by 15% of 1990 levels by 1995.
The State of Texas owns and operates approximately 13,300 buildings enlosing 157 million square feet that cost about $237 million to heat and cool each year. A 15% savings on utility bills would inject over $35 million into the State budget each year and the potential is probably much larger.

The Energy Center at the University of Texas at El Paso is participating in the creation of a State-wide database of energy use. The State Agency Natural Resource End-Use Database (SANRED) project is compiling whole building electric energy use, natural gas use, other fuels, and water use for State agencies and making the data available as a management tool that will allow energy managers to lower usage and save money.